TiVo 3.0 Arrives

Dave Zatz —  September 8, 2016 — 19 Comments

With Rovi’s acquisition, TiVo 3.0 has arrived. In the short term, we know there will be hundreds of (unfortunate) layoffs in the name of “corporate synergy” and shareholder value. Yet, while the current iteration of TiVo begins today, we won’t entirely know what this newly merged company is all about for another 12-18 months. Sadly, for ZNF regulars, there are indications that retail hardware will once again be deemphasized given stagnant sales and an uncertain (cable) landscape.

tivo-mantis-ota

While TiVo has seemingly given up on Aereo branding and an OTA-only Bolt, they’ve clearly still got eyes on the cord cutting contingent… as a TiVo Mantis has just passed thru the FCC:

TThe TiVO Inc. model TCD84A000 (Mantis) is a network DVR that is designed to receive OTA broadcast video and transcodes and send it out as a network stream either wired or wireless. The EUT incorporates an 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac transceiver.

Based on the description and limited ports (of Ethernet and USB) in its 5″ x 5″ x 1.5″ enclosure, the Mantis is more a headless Tablo or HDHomeRun-esque solution than a traditional DVR… as it lacks video output. Given the “transcode” I’ll go ahead and assume TiVo is working on Roku, Apple TV, and Fire TV clients vs forcing folks into a TiVo Mini. Whether or not DVR storage is integrated, vs the competition’s bring-your-own-drive, remains to be seen. As does tuner count (I’d guess dual) along with pricing and associated fees.

Continue Reading…

roku-premiere

By correlating the recent Roku FCC leak against information obtained from two Canadian channels (1, 2), we now have a pretty good idea what Roku intends to do this fall with five new models… including potentially moving away from a tired, repetitive numerical naming convention and the introduction of HDR capabilities.

Roku Express

Replacing the Roku 1 in the streaming company’s lineup is the Roku Express (3700) and Express Plus (3710). As to what’s new and the differentiation between models, I’m not entirely certain. However, it’s reasonable to assume the 2016 Roku 1 would feature a more capable processor and if the distinction between the Premiere and Premiere Plus models (below) is any indication, perhaps the Roku Express Plus model features additional ports or that desirable headphone+voice control remote. I’m hopeful that at least one model will retain RCA composite outputs to support older televisions.

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CM-7002-3

One of the primary drawbacks of most streamers is a lack of live over-the-air television integration. Sure, you can switch inputs away from your television’s tuner. But wouldn’t a unified interface and guide be cool? Bonus if it comes with universal search. Roku and Terk once went down this path but failed to deliver and Amazon may be working on something. Into the current vacuum, enter: Channel Master’s new Digital TV Hub.This small, single tuner box’s secret is HDMI pass-thru, similar to Xbox One and original Google TV implementations … but with hopefully more interest and appreciation.

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I’ve long been a proponent of hub and spoke video distribution model and the 2013 TiVo Mini single-handily kept me in the fold. Dropping the TiVo extender’s service fee only sweetened the deal. However, I’ve long pined for a wireless iteration having been blessed with solid coverage – now cranked to 11 with eero.

Yet, it wasn’t meant to be as TiVo CMO Ira Bahr implies consistent performance and support could be an issue: Continue Reading…

TiVo Bolt Plus Arrives 9/15

Dave Zatz —  August 18, 2016 — 41 Comments

Bolt-plusBy way of TiVo CMO Ira Bahr and CEDIA outreach, we seemingly now have a name and a date for the TiVo big boy box they teased enthusiasts with after a somewhat lukewarm Bolt reception.

I had assumed any higher-end box would feature a more subtle and traditional enclosure, both for heat dissipation purposes and to address audience preference – stylistic and hard drive. Indeed, the precedent had been set with two distinct Roamio enclosures. However, I fear that Bolt moniker reuse and CEDIA imagery implies the non-standard presentation is part of the package. At least it features a black finish?

As to what Bolt+ hardware will bring to the table, well something more than 4 tuners is a lock. Given CableCARD limitations and available hardware, 6 tuners seems like be a safe bet. Additional recording storage is also obvious and, regardless of form factor, 2TB would be the absolute minimum given the current Bolt that maxes out at 1TB. Like the Roamio Pro/Plus, would OTA capabilities be excluded? Might we be treated to other surprises, like additional audio support or an OLED display? (Ha, just kidding. There will never be another OLED display.) As with the original Bolt, this new model will be 4k-capable with HDR likely on the docket.

Anything else on our wish list?

sling-airtv

As I revealed in April, Echostar and DISH Network are collaborating on an audacious plan to pipe the national television networks into Sling TV without the headache and expense of franchine licensing. “AirTV” repurposes Slingbox M1/M2 hardware with over-the-air (OTA) antenna capabilities to stream NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, and other locals into the various Sling TV client applications.

From a draft Amazon listing:

With AirTV and an HD antenna, you can stream live local programming, news and your local sports anywhere in your home using the free Sling TV app and its integrated program guide. No paid contracts-just free local TV on any compatible device. And if you want more channels, you can subscribe to paid Sling TV packages-all from the same app.

  • You can watch AirTV from the Sling TV app on Android, iOS, Amazon Fire TV and Roku.
  • Compatible with antennas such as: Mohu Wine Gard RCA …and all others

Continue Reading…

Back in 2014, Echostar’s Sling Media began injecting ads into both the Slingbox client interface and into the video stream itself. As you might imagine, many of us were displeased. Also, as you might imagine, some decided to take this to court as a class-action lawsuit. Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, their legal team doesn’t appear to be well-versed in Slingbox technology (which has not been available for “decades”). Nor do they appear to be very thorough. Although I give them credit for coming strong by proposing an outrageous $5,000,000 in damages.

Some highlights from the National Law Review:

there was no allegation that Sling Media actually stated the slinging functions would be “ad free.” Likewise, the court observed that the lead plaintiffs failed to allege whether they bought their devices after Sling Media allegedly formed its intent to insert ads and before Sling Media launched the new feature (thereby disclosing the intent).

The court also found that the consumers failed to allege “injury.” The plaintiffs implied that Sling Media’s “use” of the plaintiffs’ property was itself an injury (like a private version of a “takings” claim).

The impact of the Sling Media decision is tempered by the fact that it was a decision on a motion to dismiss (and allowed plaintiffs to move for leave to amend).